“How to cook dutch babies” sounds like something out of a Grimm fairy tale, but it is actually a recipe that I wrote down on June 15, 1997 in weird handwriting and coloured pencil that has followed me around since that day. I made it for the first time yesterday–July 12, 2015–in the middle of the “Antarctic Vortex”.
In the intervening years I’ve lost wallets, mobile phones, clothes, shoes, books, earrings, journals, several entire boxes full of memorabilia, photographs and CDs and I’ve lost innumerable other insignificant items that I don’t even know aren’t with me anymore and I’ve thrown out reams of sentimental and on-the-cusp of sentimental pieces of paper as well, and yet somehow this recipe has not fallen through the cracks of my life.
In June 1997 I was visiting a then new friend, Pia, and her Mum, Uli, in Austinmer. They had a dark green kitchen and bright blue bathroom. My friend was an incredible artist-in-making and her Mother was a practicing artist with a real deal studio and paintings all over the walls. We always talked about amazing things and ate amazing food. Strange food. Not food you could buy in restaurants in Wollongong, no Thai, Chinese or Italian, but other kinds of food. This version of pancakes was so exotic to me at the time; it was better than any other pancake I had ever had before because of that, and also because Uli was an amazing cook and because of the art, the food, the conversation, the kitchen paint and these pancakes, they were, without reserve, the coolest people I had ever met. After cooking the Babies one morning, Uli dictated this pan-size-centric recipe to me. I think I thought recipe would be the first ingredient in my new identity: a more creative and more European Jennifer was on the way. I wrote it down quickly and excitedly, but the recipe wasn’t enough. In a botched attempt to be creative like them, to show some kind of artistic and/or European flair, I transcribed it to another piece of paper. Even then I am sure I knew that my terrible handwriting and awkward use of coloured pencil was an indicator that I would never actually make it.
Though I suppose I could have tried to make the damn recipe before today, over eighteen years later, in an aspirational attempt to escape the dominant aesthetic and culinary culture of Wollongong in the nineties. But I didn’t, although I am still almost as excited about the recipe as I was then. What’s more, they are still my friends and more awesome than I initially thought. This recipe is actually awesome too, but for different reasons. It’s awesomeness resides in the fact that you bake all the batter at once, so literally means all your pancakes come at once. A nice thing to do inside the house on a cold Winter’s day and a nice snack to share.